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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Faculty, staff, student, community offer comments about athletic conference affiliation

At Dec. 13 open forum

Students, student-athletes, faculty, staff and members of the Mankato community expressed opinions about the University's athletic conference affiliation options at an open forum Dec. 13.

2006-12-20

Free Press photo by John Cross
panel discussion of athletics conference issue
President Richard Davenport (left) fields an audience question during an open forum on the future of intercollegiate athletics held Wednesday at Ostrander Auditorium. Vice President of Finance Rick Straka (sitting, left), Vice President Dean Trauger and athletic director Kevin Buisman (far right) made up the panel for the forum.

Students, student-athletes, faculty, staff and members of the Mankato community expressed opinions about the University's athletic conference affiliation options at an open forum Dec. 13.

President Richard Davenport led the discussion, and additional information was provided by Vice President for Finance Rick Straka, Special Assistant to the President Dean Trauger and Athletic Director Kevin Buisman.

The discussion focused primarily on two options: Applying to join the Northern Sun Conference (Division II) or moving to Division IAA athletic competition. President Davenport pointed out that applying for Northern Sun membership requires a decision by Jan. 1, adding that acceptance into the league isn't guaranteed if the University decides to apply.

Vice President Straka said research done for a number of universities shows that moving to Division I requires an additional $2 million per year in net revenue. Generating the additional annual revenue from tuition, fees or donations is highly unlikely, he added.

A decision is necessary because several members of the North Central Conference recently announced that they are leaving the conference. Late last month Commissioner Roger Thomas said the league will play its final games during the 2007-08 school year.

For many years Minnesota State Mankato has been a leading member of the 85-year-old conference. For much of its tenure the NCC was one of the nation's top NCAA Division II athletic conferences; its member schools won 43 NCAA Division II national team championships and more than 300 individual national titles.

Four years ago Northern Colorado withdrew from the NCC to move to Division I status. Two years ago North Dakota State University and South Dakota State University withdrew from the league to move to Division I, and Morningside College moved to the NAIA. Earlier this year the University of North Dakota and, in late November, the University of South Dakota announced that they, too, were moving to Division I.

Recently Augustana College announced it would seek admission to the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, and the University of Nebraska-Omaha stated it was seeking admission to the Mid-America Athletics Association. All of the conference's three remaining members - the University of Minnesota-Duluth, St. Cloud State University and Minnesota State-Mankato - are looking for new affiliations.

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